Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Microsoft IT Environment Health Scanner

For those of you who don't regularly read the EBS Team Blog, they have announced the release of the Microsoft IT Environment Health Scanner - a diagnostic tool designed for administrators of small or medium-sized networks who want to assess the overall health of their network infrastructure.

This tool, whilst based on the scanner in the EBS Preparation Wizard, is now EBS agnostic - it doesn't ask you about your EBS installation type before running it, nor does it offer the Windows EBS Readiness report after the scan. Other than that, it *is* the EBS Preparation Wizard health scanner.

If you've never run the EBS Preparation Wizard over your network, I'd strongly recommend downloading and running this tool. It is a good tool to run on your client networks - and especially on the networks of prospective clients to see how much work you have to do to get them on the straight and narrow...

Now, a bit of information that's not given to you in the documentation for this tool...

First, even though this is a tool that *should* be "run as administrator" (when UAC is enabled) by default it won't ask for elevation and even though it asks for an administrator account user/pass just as the health scan starts, this is not enough as you will receive 2 errors because the tool was not run with elevation - in Data Collection, you'll receive an AdReplConvergence error and also a SysVolInfo error, both resulting in a lot of checks being skipped. Honestly, how did this get past the beta testers like this?

On an SBS 2008 primary server (the SBS 2008 Standard bit) when you run this tool you will most likely receive a warning indicating that the server is configured to use only the default time source and then refers you to a KB article on how to fix this on Windows Server 2003. Well, SBS 2008 is *not* based on Windows Server 2003, so a better KB would have been... well... there is no Microsoft KB on how to do this in Server 2008, however Richard N Williams (aka "the man who knows ntp") wrote an article on this which can be found here. However, despite the health scan warning, unless you have either a) a seriously unreliable Internet connection or b) a local hardware clock that's more accurate than your motherboard clock, such as the Star Card, then using will do fine. Personally, I prefer for our Linux and BSD servers as it is physically closer than, however on Windows systems, I usually stick with

Additionally, this MS IT Environment Health Scanner fails to perform one check that the EBS Preparation Wizard performs that I consider quite useful - "Dynamic Updates are enabled on DNS root zones". It also fails to perform "Domain controllers that are running Windows Server 2000/2003 have the correct service pack installed" which could be a useful thing to know.

So, between this MS IT Environment Health Scanner and the EBS Preparation Wizard, which should you choose? Well, if you want to use the scanner that does the most thorough check of your network, use the EBS Preparation Wizard tool - but just remember to tell it that you'll be joining EBS computers to an existing AD domain.


The Outspoken Wookie

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